On the Dole? Cashing Checks From Uncle Sam? Be Ashamed!

Story Stream
recent articles

On the Dole? Cashing Checks from Uncle Sam? Be Ashamed!

By any measure, the U.S. federal government is now the largest income-redistribution operation in human history. The latest government dependency index has broken all records, with half of U.S. households on one dole or another. This is a cause for celebration for progressives, who view income inequality as an evil worse than widespread poverty (poverty's not so bad if it is uniform). As we watch the eurozone careen toward insolvency, citizens rioting in the streets every time their government entitlements get cut, we need to ask ourselves: What can we do to escape the same fate?

We must bring back shame.

Fathered babies you won't care for, asking the taxpayer to foot the bill? SHAME ON YOU! Drank yourself into a state of homelessness, reduced to living on food stamps? SHAME ON YOU! Quit school, won't learn a trade, and can't find a job? SHAME ON YOU! Lying on your Social Security disability application because everyone else is? SHAME ON YOU! Smoked yourself into a heart attack, ate yourself porcine, then barged into an emergency room demanding free care? SHAME ON YOU! Sucking up to cronies in Washington for bailout money, farm subsidies, and an endless parade of "green" energy subsidies? SHAME ON YOU!

If your reaction to the above litany has been, "Right on!" here's a tougher one for you.

Enjoying a comfy retirement thanks to your public pension, yet double-dipping by collecting Social Security? SHAME ON YOU!

What? "I paid into the Social Security trust fund my whole life so it would be there when I retired. That's my money!"

No you didn't. No it won't. No it isn't. The money you paid in is all gone, looted by Congress and dispensed to favored constituencies over many years. You are now siphoning money directly from the paychecks of working Americans, many of whom earn less than the income you are enjoying in retirement. As I said, SHAME ON YOU!

Exactly when did we banish shame? Who told the government it was OK to run public relations campaigns encouraging people to take handouts? Why have so many of our churches stopped preaching against the vices that lead to dependency, clamoring instead for government alms as if they were a basic human right? When were recipients of charity relieved of the obligation to work to get back on their feet, and instead self-righteously demand ever more? How did a nation that was once the paragon of independence and self-sufficiency become mired in a cultural swamp that increasingly saps our vitality by undermining our moral foundations?

SHAME ON US-for banishing shame.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney completely fumbled his 47 percent gaffe, but not because he stated a false statistic about who pays income taxes and who doesn't. He was correct when he pointed out that we have reached the tipping point where a majority of citizens have the power to vote themselves benefits at someone else's expense. Mitt dropped the ball because he refused to speak out forcefully about the moral rot that leads to government dependency.

Too many Americans have succumbed to a steady drumbeat of propaganda telling us that the reason some are better off than others is because there is no such thing as justly earned wealth. A recently unearthed video of a Harvard speech by the young Barack Obama says it all. Believing that success is due to "blind luck" gives politicians permission to help themselves to as much of anyone's property as they please, free to give it away to the voters of their choice. That's how democracy works in the 21st century.

When a crook snatches someone's wallet, we call it theft. But when Uncle Sam does the snatching in our name, we call it social justice-thanks to generations of government schooling. When corporate executives slip money to politicians to give them access to the public trough, we call it bribery. But if magic words like "sustainable" and "job creation" are uttered while the feast is in progress, we call it investing in the future-thanks to the growing acceptance of czar-driven central planning.

Shame is the counterpoint of pride, and both play a pivotal role in keeping an economy working. Take away a man's pride of accomplishment and you will see a lot less accomplishment. Remove the shame of dependence and you will see a lot more dependency. Do both and you've got a recipe for disaster.


Bill Frezza is a fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and a Boston-based venture capitalist. You can find all of his columns, TV, and radio interviews here.  If you would like to have his weekly columns delivered to you by e-mail, click here or follow him on Twitter @BillFrezza.

Show commentsHide Comments

Related Articles